Weapon Offences – Criminal Defence Lawyer Toronto
There are many different types of weapon offences that a person can be charged with. Depending on the weapon an individual is charged with possessing, the circumstances surrounding why he or she possessed it, and in what manner it was being used, the potential consequences will vary.
What can be considered a weapon?
Essentially, ANY item can be used as a weapon. If someone hits another person with a pillow without the consent of the other person, that can be considered a weapon used in the commission of an assault.
The Criminal Code definition of a “weapon” is any thing used, designed to be used, or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person, OR for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person.
If I have a knife from my kitchen with me when I walk down the street, can I be charged with possessing a weapon?
Unfortunately, it is probable that you would be charged by the police for possession of a weapon. If you were not using it in a threatening/intimidating way, then you should be acquitted after a trial.
I have been charged with possession of a firearm but I did not touch it. I was simply in my friend’s car when they searched it and found it under a seat. Why have they charged me?
To prove an individual guilty of possession of a weapon, Crown must prove that the item seized was in fact a weapon. In the case of firearms, it must be a barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person.
The Crown must also prove that the individual charged had control of the firearm and had knowledge that the item was a firearm. This is not always as easy to prove as it sounds. In this case, you were charged because the police may not know whose firearm it was and so they charged everyone in the car. For this reason you should consult a lawyer to discuss your case.
I was arrested in possession of a weapon. Isn’t that a “slam-dunk” case for the Crown?
While it is understandable that it would appear to be a very strong case against you, there are possible defences that need to be considered. More often than not these days, the police are obtaining evidence by violating the Canadian Charter Rights of individuals. Every citizen has the right not to be stopped and detained by the police nor searched by them without reasonable and probable grounds to believe a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed. Unfortunately, in Canada and in many other countries, minorities are often subjected to illegal searches and detentions by the police for random investigations.
As a result of a Charter violation, the Court may exclude the evidence of the weapon at the trial. Without this evidence, the case usually will no longer proceed and a person will be found not guilty. The evidence is often excluded when the police blatantly violate the rights of an individual without regard to the rights of Canadian citizens.
What kind of sentence will I receive if I am convicted of a weapon offence?
The type of sentence a person can receive for a weapon offence depends on a myriad of factors. Some weapon offences can carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Others carry minimum sentences (which means that if the offence has a minimum sentence of one year, a judge must sentence an individual to at least one year in jail). Some of the factors considered include, but are not limited to:
i)the type of weapon (for example, weapons such as knives or uncommon weapons will generally result in lighter sentences than firearms or explosives.
ii)the manner in which the weapon was being possessed (was it simply in the person’s pocket or was it being held for everyone to see)
iii)whether the person is convicted of possession, using the weapon, or possession for the purpose of trafficking or actually trafficking
iv) the criminal record of the person found guilty
v)the facts surrounding the case including whether there was a Charter violation
Many firearm related offences have minimum sentences of three years and up depending on the firearm-related offence charged and whether the individual has any prior firearm related convictions.
If you have been charged with possession of any kind of weapon, assault with a weapon, firearm related offences, weapons dangerous, or any other weapon-related offences, you should consult a lawyer to discuss your case. Click HERE to contact Jeff Hershberg for a free consultation.